I love to read the comments sections on all the menswear blogs out there. One of the issues I read coming up most often is that guys like the style they are being shown, but feel too overdressed when trying to apply it themselves. For all of you out there feeling the same way, here are a few pointers on how to dress down a dapper outfit:
1. Change Shoes: Simply switching from a pair of well polished oxfords to some slip on loafers, boat shoes, or subtle sneaks can take an outfit from boardroom to barroom in a snap. While your at it, ditch the belt as well. Try something braided or stitched, or perhaps some suede, but this is a great chance to give the plain leather a break.
2. Let Loose: When dressing sharply, there tend to be a lot of things held very neatly in place. If you want to loosen up your 'vibe,' do the same with your clothes. Lose the tie clip, for one. Heck, don't even bother tucking the tail into the loop on the front blade. Roll up your sleeves. Roll up the cuffs on your pants. Undo a button on your shirt. Loosen your tie a bit. All of these help make you look like you feel more relaxed.
3. Tone Down: This pertains to the materials you're wearing. Swap out your slick white herringbone shirt for a white OCBD, or a semi-spread collar chambray shirt. Pick out a knit tie with a loose weave instead of the shiny silk repp you wear to work. Wear pebble grain or suede shoes instead of high-shine dress leather. Instead of a blazer or sport coat, opt for a classy bomber jacket or an overshirt.
4. Mix and Match: The key here is in avoiding looking like you spent a lot of time laying out the perfect outfit the night before (even if you did). Separate your suit components. Keep the shirt and tie, but throw on a pair of jeans instead of dress trousers. Wear a casual shirt (chambray, flannel, band-collar, pop-over) under your blazer instead of your french cuffs.
The point is, you can dress well without looking stuffy. I turn to these methods pretty much every casual Friday. While I love the lack of restrictions that a 'jeans day' in the office provides, I still want to look good. Following the advice laid out above, I can end up in an outfit such as this:
Besides the jeans and the boat shoes, every single aspect of this outfit is something that could fit into my office's Monday-Thursday business casual dress code. Now I feel sharp and put together, but won't draw attention in the office as being that guy who dresses up when everyone else is dressing down. Even better, I'm ready to head straight to the bar when 5:00 hits. Because that's what I do.